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God Is With Us
What Near-Death and Other Spiritually Transformative Experiences Teach Us About God and Afterlife
By Dr. Ken R. Vincent
 
   Home     Dedication     Foreword     Chapter 1     Chapter 2     Chapter 3     Chapter 4     Chapter 5     Chapter 6
    Chapter 7     Chapter 8     Chapter 9     Chapter 10     Chapter 11     Chapter 12     Chapter 13     Chapter 14     Chapter 15
    Chapter 16     Chapter 17     Appendix A     Appendix B     References     About Ken     Resources     Permissions Acknowledgements
 
 

Dr. Ken R. Vincent received his doctorate in Counseling Psychology from the University of Northern Colorado in 1973. He is currently retired from teaching Psychology and the Psychology of Religious Experience at Houston Community College. He is a member of the Alister Hardy Society for the Study of Spiritual Experience and the International Association of Near-Death Studies (IANDS). Dr. Vincent served as a founding Board member of the Christian Universalist Association and is the former webmaster of The Universalist Herald website. His writings all contain a strong undercurrent of Universalist thought. In his book The Magi: From Zoroaster to the Three Wise Men, he compares the religion of the Magi (Zoroastrianism) to Christianity and shows the parallels of Universal Restoration in both faiths. In Visions of God from the Near-Death Experience, the wisdom of the prophets and sages of the world's religions is superimposed upon the accounts of modern-day near-death experiencers to illustrate the similarities between them. Dr. Vincent‘s book The Golden Thread: God's Promise of Universal Salvation documents the solid support for Universal Salvation in the Bible as well as research into NDEs and Mystical/Religious/Spiritual Experiences. This online book is entitled God Is With Us: What Near-Death and Other Spiritually Transformative Experiences Teach Us About God and Afterlife. Correspondence regarding this online book should be sent to: professorvincent@yahoo.com.

Table of Contents

HOME The home page of this online book is the current page.

DEDICATION Photos of the one whom this online book is dedicated.

FOREWORD:  Webmaster Kevin Williams introduces the author of this online book, Dr. Ken R. Vincent, and gives reasons why this important work should be read and understood by people from all backgrounds and religious preference.

CHAPTER  1:  The Search for God and Afterlife in the Age of Science - Near-death experiences and other transpersonal experiences point to the existence and nature of God and ongoing personal consciousness following physical death. In this article, the history of these experiences are reviewed prior to 1850 and of their study during three periods of scientific research between 1850 and the present.

CHAPTER  2:  Developmental Revelation - There is a parallel between the development of the individual and the progress of whole cultures throughout history and that evidence for this maturation process can be found in the stories of the world's religions. Because the Bible documents a 2000-year period of human development, it is particularly rich with examples of developmental revelation.

CHAPTER  3:  Ken's Guide to "Universals" In Religion - Dr. Vincent presents five "universals" common to all religions, the most important being the spiritually transformative experience - the basis for their founder's authority. The world religions continue in large part because a substantial number of believers have their own spiritually transformative experiences. Dr. Vincent explains how this has been demonstrated by over 100 years of scientific research and how, without spiritually transformative experiences, religion would probably cease to exist.

CHAPTER  4:  Separating the "Super" from the "Natural" - Ancient religious writings describe "supernatural" experiences which do not occur in the modern world. In this article, Dr. Vincent separates the "supernatural" from "natural" religious experiences by explaining how modern researchers have applied the scientific method to such experiences and discovered they are not limited to the realm of a few ancient saints, prophets, and sages.

CHAPTER  5:  Religious Experience of Jesus Compatible with Modern Research - Dr. Vincent documents how the Jesus Seminar used modern scholarship to separate the mythology from the reality regarding Jesus and how Jesus' mystical experiences were no different from modern mystical experiences, except in degree, thereby showing a continuity of religious experience from Jesus' time to the present.

CHAPTER  6:  Resurrection Appearances of Jesus as After-Death Communication - Although a bodily resurrection of Jesus is implied by the Gospel writers because of the empty tomb, Dr. Vincent reveals how the "resurrection" appearances of Jesus described in the Bible are more in accord with the phenomenology of modern after-death communications of Jesus, other divine figures and ordinary people.

CHAPTER  7:  Resurrection Appearances of Jesus as After-Death Communication: Rejoinder to Gary Habermas - Dr. Vincent uses data from religious/spiritual experience research to defend his thesis about Jesus' resurrection appearances described in the Bible as being visionary after-death communications instead of "reanimated corpse" appearances. Dr. Vincent also describes how, over the past 150 years, religious experience researchers have successfully applied the tools of science and begun to unlock the mysteries of how humans experience God and afterlife.

CHAPTER  8:  Religious Experience Research Reveals Universalist Principles - For the past 100 years, social and biomedical scientists have been studying transpersonal experiences (such as NDEs and Mysticism) and though they might not be aware of the theological term "Universalism", their conclusions support it. Dr. Vincent has recognized a recurring pattern of Universalist principles in the writing of his fellow researchers of NDEs and other Spiritually Transformative Experiences, including the Oneness of all things and an Ultimate Reality whose love is inescapable.

CHAPTER  9:  Mystical Religious Experiences and Christian Universalism - Christian mystics such as Jesus have often been at odds with the religious leaders when they put religious dogma above mystical experiences of God. Dr. Vincent offers some personal and social science evidence from modern researchers who have shown that such mystical experiences are quite common and that they reinforce what Jesus taught about God's love for everyone.

CHAPTER 10:  The Near-Death Experience and Christian Universalism - In this article, Dr. Vincent explores the near-death experience (NDE) in context of Christian Universalism. He also shows how Universal Salvation and Salvation by Good Works are the most compatible theological systems supporting the NDE phenomenon. He does this by presenting an analysis of New Testament verses (among other things) which supports these principles.

CHAPTER 11:  An Eighteenth-Century Near-Death Experience: The Case of George de Benneville - Dr. Vincent and Rev. Dr. John Morgan discuss one of the most credible and documented cases of an NDE - that of an 18th-century physician and lay minister by the name of Dr. George de Benneville - whose hopeful Universalist message is consistent with the reports of modern-day NDEs but put him at odds with his Calvinistic his religious upbringing and associates.

CHAPTER 12:  Zoroaster: The First Universalist - Zoroaster was known as a the Prophet of the Magi (the so-called "wise men" of Matthew 2) and a miracle-worker who is believed to have lived somewhere between 1200-1800 BCE. Although almost nothing was known of his ideas in post-Classical Western culture until the late 18th century, his name was already associated with lost ancient wisdom. Enlightenment writers such as Voltaire promoted research into Zoroastrianism in the belief that it was a form of rational Deism, preferable to Christianity. Elements of Zoroastrian philosophy entered the West through their influence on Judaism and Christianity.

CHAPTER 13:  Omar Khayyam: Sufi Universalist - Omar Khayyám (1048–1131 CE) was a Islamic mystic from Persia who was enormously influential in mathematic, philosophy, astronomy and Islamic theology (among other things). His poetry has inspired people from all around the world including Dr. Vincent who presents the great mystic's Universalism expressed through his verses.

CHAPTER 14:  Universal Salvation in Hinduism and Its Children - Dr. Vincent explains the Universalist principles in Hinduism is its "branches": Buddhism, Sikhism, and Jainism. Central to these religions is the law of "karma" in which a person's deeds in life determines their status not only in the intermediate state of Heaven or Hell, but also their next life with the ultimate goal of liberation from the cycle of reincarnation and towards a permanent union with God through good deeds.

CHAPTER 15:  Scientific Investigation of the "Dark Side" - Dr. Vincent documents the scientific research into spiritually transformative experiences (STEs) which show negative experiences do occur, but are not widespread as positive ones and that they also change people's lives for the better. STEs such as NDEs and ADCs reveal Universalist principles that humans are accountable for their actions and that nothing good is ever lost.

CHAPTER 16:  Magic, Deeds, and Universalism: Afterlife in the World’s Religions - Dr. Vincent describes in detail the three levels of religious development in human beings. The lowest level of religious development is where "magic" rituals are performed, such as animal or human sacrifice, to appease the gods in order to guarantee a positive outcome in the afterlife. The next level of religious development is the realization that your deeds in life determine your afterlife outcome. But the highest level of religious development is Universalism which views God as Jesus did, for example, as being infinitely nicer than any parent and realizing that we are all a part of God and can never be lost.

CHAPTER 17:  What Near-Death and Other Spiritually Transformative Experiences Teach Us About God and Afterlife - Scientific research into NDEs and other "NDE-like" spiritually transformative experiences such as Mystical Experiences and ADCs have broadened our understanding of God and the afterlife and are the basis for the world's great religions. Dr. Vincent reveals insights from this research including the divine nature within everyone, how good deeds really do matter, how it's what's in your heart that matters most and not so much what you believe in your head, that hell is not a permanent spiritual condition, and that everyone has the potential and ultimate goal of being a permanent resident of the highest heaven.

APPENDIX A:  The Salvation Conspiracy: How Hell Became Eternal - Dr. Vincent explains how modern Biblical scholarship and archeological findings have confirmed that Universalist principles were dominant during the first 500 years of Christianity and how mistranslations of scriptures contributed to reinterpretations of the nature of Hell as being eternal torture. Dr. Vincent also discusses how the historical merging of Church and State led to the corruption of Jesus' Universalist teachings.

APPENDIX B:  Where Have All the Universalists Gone? - Universalism has been a part of the world's great religions since their very beginnings. Although Universalism as a separate Christian denomination has dwindled in membership significantly over the years, Dr. Vincent describes how Universalism is growing in the hearts and minds of virtually all Christian denominations, as well as other world religions. Is the growing number of Universalists sufficient to counter the false claim that God loves only people of a particular brand, of a specific sect, of a special religion? It is time for a revival of the Universalist Church to gather together all who enthusiastically affirm that God is too good to condemn anyone to eternal torture.

REFERENCES:  This bibliography contains all 200+ references which this online book used.

ABOUT KEN The author of this online book, Dr. Ken R. Vincent, has a brief biography on this page.

RESOURCES:  Selected recommended Internet resources are listed such as websites on NDEs and other Spiritually Transformative Experiences, websites on Universalism, websites on Zoroaster, and websites on the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.

PERMISSIONS This page contains permissions information where all the chapters of this online book were previously published such as in the in the Journal of Near-Death Studies, De Numine and The Universalist Herald.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS:  Webmaster Kevin Williams is acknowledged as the web developer of this online book.

Books by Dr. Ken R. Vincent
Visions of God book cover.

Visions of God from the
Near Death Experience

by Dr. Ken R. Vincent

Many of our most inspiring and straightforward visions of God, afterlife, and values for living have come through near-death experiences. In gathering together the spiritual highlights of many such experiences, Dr. Vincent does a real service for readers who need quick access to "the good stuff." The result is an inspirational book that gently reminds us how much we have always known deep inside. A HARDBACK edition of the book is also available.

The Golden Thread book cover.
The Golden Thread: God's Promise of Universal Salvation
by Dr. Ken R. Vincent

In our modern pluralistic world, the barriers imposed by the old doctrine of religious exclusivity are confronted every day by individuals, families, and nations. Now more than ever, the inspirational message of God's Universal and eternal love for all humanity needs to be retold. By reacquainting readers with the God who is too good to condemn anyone to Eternal Hell, this book offers a Biblical interpretation present in Christianity from the earliest Jesus-Followers to the 21st Century.

The Magi book cover.
The Magi: From Zoroaster to
the "Three Wise Men"
by Dr. Ken R. Vincent

Do you know why Zoroastrian priests are on your Christmas cards? In The Magi, Dr. Ken Vincent shines light on a topic previously known mainly to scholars; he provides the layperson searching for Christian origins an extremely readable but thorough exploration of a religion which predates Christianity by hundreds of years. This easy-to-read introduction highlights the parallels between Zoroaster and both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament and shows the use of Zoroastrian imagery in the Dead Sea Scrolls. An appendix includes an English translation of the complete hymns of Zoroaster.

 
 

"If what I say upsets you and hurts your feelings, let me apologize; but if what I say upsets you and makes you think -- thank you, that's my job!" - Dr. Ken R. Vincent

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